My winter gardening gear consists of a stability ball, hand weights, resistance bands and other exercise equipment in my home gym.
Getting ready for gardening season requires a little more exercise than thumbing through seed catalogs. Working out in winter is an important way to get muscles ready for the first warm spring days spent out in the yard.
I’ve learned this from experience.
I used to think getting ready to garden meant taking a few Ibuprofen before I headed outside. After all, a body can only take so much bending, lifting, kneeling and squatting after a long winter of inactivity. But now I start training for my gardening marathon with a complete fitness program.
If you haven’t been active recently, be sure to get a health professional’s okay before lifting that first weight. Then work to gradually build up strength so you can be ready to get down and dirty in the garden.
To create your individualized workout routine, think about the gardening activities you do and the major muscles you need to do them. If you need inspiration, check out Prevention Magazine’s fitness website for exercise ideas.
- Strong shoulders and arms are needed for raking, weeding, trimming, spreading compost and either starting the lawn mower or pushing the reel mower.
- Good back muscles help with bending, carrying bags of fertilizer, digging holes and turning garden soil.
- Firm leg muscles make crouching, lifting, kneeling and standing up easier.
- Tight abdominal muscles support the entire torso for good posture and balance.
Aim for 2-3 days a week for strength training with weights or resistance bands, interspersed with walking or another aerobic activity. Before each workout, start with a gentle warm up and some slow stretching.
You can do a few exercises for each major muscle group each day or rotate days, concentrating on working shoulders and arms on one day, chest and back on one day and one day of leg exercises. Abdominal muscles can be worked every day for best results.
A few months following an exercise routine like this will leave you pumped up to get out into the garden (with fabulous arms like Michelle Obama). Once there, you’ll be able to have more stamina and derive an added benefit–burning up to 300 calories an hour doing moderately strenuous gardening activities.
What do you do to get in shape for gardening season?